Tuesday, November 18, 2008

Acting Head of Diocese Says Priest Who Told Obama Voters to Repent Went Too Far

The National Catholic Reporter's website has a report from Religion News Service that the administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, SC, acting head of the diocese since its bishop was transferred last year, has issued a statement that a local priest was out of line when he said Obama voters must repent and receive absolution before sharing in the Eucharist. Catholic News Service carried a similar report the same day the statement was released, but the RNS version below is a bit clearer:

A South Carolina Catholic priest was wrong to warn parishioners who voted for President-elect Barack Obama to confess their sin before receiving Communion, according to the head of the priest's diocese.

Monsignor Martin T. Laughlin, administrator of the Diocese of Charleston, said in a statement late Friday (Nov. 14) that "if a person has formed his or her conscience well, he or she should not be denied Communion, nor be told to go to confession before receiving Communion."

Last week, the Rev. Jay Scott Newman of St. Mary's Catholic Church in Greenville, said that by receiving Communion, Obama supporters "drink and eat their own condemnation," because the president-elect supports abortion rights. Newman later said he would not deny the sacrament to anyone "based on political opinions or choices."

Newman's statements "do not adequately reflect the Catholic Church's teachings. Any comments or statements to the contrary are repudiated," Laughlin said. He added that Newman pulled the church's moral teachings "into the partisan political arena" and "diverted the focus from the church's clear position against abortion."

Laughlin cites the Catholic Church's catechism, which states that "man has the right to act in conscience and in freedom so as personally to make moral decisions."

"Christ gives us the freedom to explore our own consciences and to make our decisions while adhering to the law of God and the teachings of the faith," Laughlin said. "We should all come together to support the president-elect and all elected officials with a view to influencing policy in favor of the protection of the unborn child."

Laughlin was appointed the interim administrator of the statewide Charleston diocese when Bishop Robert J. Baker was transferred to Birmingham, Ala., last year.

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